It's not as if last season was an easy one for D'Shawn Schwartz. Any first season at the Division I level comes with its fair share of challenges, and the guard out of Colorado Springs had the twin burdens of being the top-rated recruit in a well-regarded recruiting class while also taking on the pressure of playing in his home state at the University of Colorado.

Schwartz essentially played as the backup to George King last year, shooting a commendable .383 from 3-point range while averaging 13.1 minutes per game.

Schwartz has assumed a much larger role this year, and as the Buffs get set to host Oregon State Thursday night (7 p.m., Pac-12 Network), the 6-foot-7 sophomore finds himself attempting to battle through another lull in what has been an up-and-down season.

"It's been tough to kind of get in the flow of the game," Schwartz said. "A little bit of foul trouble, a little bit of different dynamics in games. It's definitely different. Last year it was a little bit easier to fall back. This year, I can't do that. I'm trying to figure out how to make sure I fulfill my role."

Last week's split by the Buffaloes at the Bay Area schools again found Schwartz struggling to contribute after he seemingly had turned a corner in Pac-12 Conference play.

In the Buffs' final four nonconference games, Schwartz scored a total of just 23 points. Despite two scoreless outings earlier in non-league play, Schwartz was more than solid through CU's first five Pac-12 games, averaging 13.4 points while shooting .500 (21-for-42) from the field.


However, Schwartz again fell into a rut at Cal and Stanford. He was limited to 17 minutes against Cal, just the second time this season Schwartz has played fewer than 20 minutes, after picking up two fouls in the game's first 2 minutes, 31 seconds. It wasn't the first time Schwartz has encountered foul trouble, but for the Buffs to possibly save their season by taking advantage of a run of seven home games out of the final 11 regular-season contests, they need a player who has started every game since the season opener to find a way to stay on the floor and contribute.

"D'Shawn Schwartz's role on this team is much bigger than it was last year," CU head coach Tad Boyle said. "He's not hiding and playing behind George King anymore. George is gone, and now it's D'Shawn's time to step up."

Certainly Schwartz isn't the only player who has battled inconsistency in what has been an inconsistent season for the Buffs. Yet if CU is to turn the corner this year, they need the Schwartz who took a streak of four double-digit scoring games into the Bay Area trip and not the one who scored just four points on a total of only four shot attempts in those two games.

"All I can do is what I did with them in the film session," Boyle said. "And that's to tell them, 'I believe in you.' I believe in this team. I believe in our players. I know I believe in our system and our staff. It's proven you can win games at this level. But I really believe in our players. I really do. We just have some guys that have to step up."

Pat Rooney: or